Getting out the Vote

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What an extraordinary week for The Bridge. One week ago, we found ourselves contestants in an online contest sponsored by Stone Arch, a top-notch Minneapolis advertising agency. The prize: a “makeover” of our brand including a new website. The challenge: receive more online votes than the other two contestants.

Monday began with emailing efforts to friends, family, and donors. With confidence, we had a comfortable voting lead. We felt a slight pressure to keep our lead and cast a wider net including contacts in personal address books and facebook friends.

Crash! Wednesday morning the tide turned. The Bridge was behind in voting, with the spread growing by the hour! An all staff meeting was convened. Brainstorming ensued and shelter staff committed to emailing not just friends but distant relatives, acquaintances, even enemies (who has those?).

As the week wore on, Bridge staff were worried. Teens Alone had a solid lead. Email outreach took on a desperate tone. Posts on Facebook mounted. Shamelessly we begged volunteers, baseball teams, ex-spouses, long lost lovers, coffee shop owners, and barbers to vote.

The tech-savvy quickly figured out they could refresh browsers, clear cookies, and cast unlimited votes. In a breach of good parenting, one unnamed individual insisted his children vote 300 times before leaving for school. A staff member saddled with attending a 2-hour meeting concerning an RFP took solace by voting surreptitiously on her mobile phone for the entire meeting.

Friends in high places pulled strings. Cube mates at Target, Nash Finch, Cargill, and Bremer Bank came through. LGBTQ friends put out the word through Project 515, Arise, and Twin Cities PRIDE festival.

When voting ended, Tuesday at noon, 9,000 votes were cast for The Bridge for Youth. Votes came from India, China, France, England, Australia, and all 50 states – except Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana (need to work on that). This astounding show of support vaulted The Bridge to first place.

We are grateful to all those supporters – and we are indebted to Stone Arch and their team who created a wonderful new identity for The Bridge, including this powerful new website. The re-brand is a story in itself… more to follow on that.

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